2021 Year in review

2021 has been a year! Despite it all, our media preservation team has been hard at work, behind the scenes, to ensure that the limited time we have to preserve MSU Libraries’ audiovisual collections is put to good use. We hope you indulge us as we share how proud we are to have accomplished it all. 

Shelves stacked tightly with VHS tapes from Michigan State University's Library Vincent Voice Library

The Media Preservation Unit (MPU) continued to collaborate with our colleagues in the Library. We continued inventorying and digitization projects with University Archives and Historical Collections, and Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections. We also started collaborating with the Vincent Voice Library to identify, inventory and digitize the Michigan Public Radio show, State Edition. We are very excited about our collaboration efforts and look forward to what the future will bring.

We wouldn’t be able to start any vendored digitization projects without the tireless efforts of Melanie Goulish, MSUL’s Media Preservation Assistant. In 2021, she inventoried over 3230 unique media objects, spending many long days alone in our processing space on 3East. Thanks to this effort we were able to send 2044 videos, 214 films, and 231 audio objects to be digitized by our dedicated AV Preservation vendor.

Legacy audio playback machines used to digitize analog audio tapes

Our resident Audiovisual Archivist, Matthew Wilcox, was also hard at work this past year. In addition to digitizing 77 motion picture films, 209 audio tapes, and 44 videos in-house and collaborating with WKAR to acquire more legacy audiovisual playback machines; he also started implementing an open-source audio and video capture system for the Audiovisual Preservation Lab.

Additionally, MPU continued to expand outreach efforts through a wide variety of workshops, presentations, and pop-up exhibits. In April, we presented a workshop on pinhole camera photography as part of the MSU Science Festival.

Michigan State University Libraries' World AV Heritage Day Pop-up Flyer

Later on, in the fall, we collaborated with MSU Libraries’ Stephen O. Murray and Keelung Hong Special Collections to celebrate UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage with a “media format petting zoo.” Participants at the event were able to see a demonstration of motion picture film splicing, learn some media trivia, and grab some MPU swag (coloring sheets and pins).

One-inch circle pins of the SMPTE color bars for television
MPU’s swag from AV Heritage Day

Matthew presented on ‘Becoming Familiar with vrecord Open Source Video Capture Software’ at the Mid-Michigan Digital Practitioners Conference, and the head of the MPU, Sarah Mainville (Media Preservation Librarian), presented on ‘Cost Effective Methods for Audiovisual Preservation’ at the Michigan Archival Association’s 2021 Annual Conference in addition to a three-hour long workshop on the preservation of optical media for the Historical Society of Michigan.

After reflecting on our accomplishments for the year, we wanted to take this opportunity to express our gratitude for the flexibility and agency provided to us by the Library to do our work. Thank you to everyone who helped us this year and we look forward to continuing the work in 2022. Rest, be well, and “see” you in the new year.

Black Heart


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  1. Kristen Lee 2021-12-21 — 19:44

    I LOVE that media preservation is part of what we do at the MSU Libraries! Thanks for sharing this wonderful summary of your team’s hard work, Sarah.

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